This is one of the most common questions I am asked when dealing with separation and divorce.
The simple answer is no. If the property is jointly owned, then you cannot change the locks without the other owner’s consent. This is because they have a right to enter and/or occupy the property if they wish.
However if there is any domestic violence or threatening or intimidating behaviour towards you by your partner then you can apply to the court for an injunction known as an Occupation Order so that your partner can be prevented from coming into the property.
To successfully obtain an Occupation Order you will need to show to the court that that it is appropriate for your partner to be excluded. For example, you may need to show that there is a risk of harm to yourself or your children.
What if my partner has already left home – can he/she come back?
If your partner is still a joint owner then yes they retain the right to enter and/or occupy the property at any time and the only way to prevent this would be by obtaining an Occupation Order from the court.
In most cases it is far more sensible and cost effective to deal with this issue practically and without the need for a court order. It is often the case that the former partner wishes to collect personal belongings and in this scenario convenient arrangements should be made for these items to be collected.
It goes without saying that if you are able to resolve this particular issue amicably then it is likely that other matters such as divorce and financial proceedings can be resolved amicably too.